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Trial Proceeds in Closed Session

The trial of accused Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga was conducted in closed session for most of Thursday at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

During the short open session, however, the defense cross-examined Wednesday’s unnamed witness, the father of the child soldier who recanted his testimony last week.

The father was a soldier in the military arm of Lubanga’s Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) and worked as the defendant’s personal bodyguard in the city of Bunia in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He testified on Wednesday that he sometimes delivered food and other goods to the various training camps in the Ituri region of the DRC, one of which he said held five thousand people.

Marc Desalliers, one of Lubanga’s lawyers, challenged that information.

“I noted that there were many people, and from what I saw, I tried to come up with an estimate,” the witness explained.

“So that was your personal estimate?” asked Desalliers.

“I said there were many people,” the witness repeated. “That’s why I gave (an) estimate of 5,000 persons.”

The defense also questioned the witness at length about the statement he originally gave to investigators from of the ICC Office of the Prosecutor in January 2008.

According to the statement Desalliers read in court, the witness originally said that after the UPC took over Bunia, he was sent to the Montreux training camp and “was present to train people.”

“Did you provide training at the Montreux camp for recruits?” asked Desalliers.

“If we were sent on special mission from Bunia, we would do gymnastics with other recruits,” he responded. “A soldier is not an idler.”

Desalliers then asked the witness if he was an instructor for recruits in the camp.

“I have never offered position of instructor in the camp,” said the witness.

The cross examination will continue on Friday.